GEOStar-3 Mission Success Enabled by Aerojet Rocketdyne XR-5 Hall Thruster System

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Northrop Grumman together recently achieved a significant milestone with the successful completion of electric propulsion orbit acquisition operations on the Al Yah 3 GEOStar-3 spacecraft. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s XR-5 Hall Thruster system operated for more than 600 hours (over 25 days of firing) to propel the spacecraft to the intended orbit, which aided recovery from a launch insertion anomaly.

“Mission success is always our priority at Aerojet Rocketdyne,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “Working with our customer Northrop Grumman to ensure their spacecraft reached its intended orbit with our XR-5 Hall Thruster system speaks to our core value of teamwork.”

This mission is the first Northrop Grumman GEOStar-3 spacecraft to fly the Aerojet Rocketdyne XR-5 Hall Thruster system, and the first time the system has been utilized in a commercial mission. Electric propulsion orbit acquisition operations of the XR-5 subsystem and all checkout operations of the spacecraft were recently concluded, and the spacecraft is now operational.

Each Aerojet Rocketdyne XR-5 subsystem aboard a GEOStar-3 spacecraft consists of four XR-5 Hall Thrusters and two power processing units to drive the thrusters. GEOStar-3 satellites are used to provide a variety of communications services, including direct-to-home TV broadcasting, broadband connectivity, cable program distribution, business data network capacity, regional mobile communications and similar services.

“The first commercial operation for the XR-5 is a significant milestone for Aerojet Rocketdyne,” added Drake. “Electric propulsion technology can greatly increase the revenue-generating potential of commercial satellites by replacing propellant mass with communication transponders.”

The Al Yah 3 mission is the fifth flight mission to utilize Aerojet Rocketdyne’s XR-5 Hall system. All four previous missions were commissioned by the U.S. Government. Multiple XR-5 commercial missions are already scheduled for 2018.

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